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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 17, 1999)
Women and tattooing
Speaker, author addresses evolution of body art
By Michelle Starr
Get out the needle and the ink, it’s
time to make a statement.
Margot Mifflin, author of “Bodies
of Subversion: A Secret History of
Women and Tattoo,” addressed the role
of women in body art to a near-full audi
torium Thursday, at Nebraska Wesleyan
“It’s not saying that tattooing is a
feminist statement,” Mifflin said. “It’s
just saying it has given them the oppor
tunity to express themselves.”
Mifflin, a freelance journalist and
former editor of Artfinder magazine,
became interested in tattooing and other
body art while reporting on contempo
rary art in the ‘80s.
She said she also has a personal
interest in women’s issues.
During her research, Mifflin found
there were three main periods of women
getting tattoos that coincided with femi
nine movements, she said
Tattooing, an art practiced for thou
sands of years, began to pick up
momentum within the circus communi
ty during the turn of the century.
“For some women it was a meal
ticket out of their small towns,” Mifflin
Drawn into the art form by fathers
or husbands, women accumulated
numerous tattoos, some covering large
sections of their bodies.
During the same time, tattooing was
also popular among affluent women as a
means of expression and decoration.
“They were taking off their corsets
and putting on designs of their own
For some women it was a meal ticket out of
their small towns
choosing,” Mifflin said.
Patriot themes were common, as
were tattoos of stocking seams on the
backs of women’s legs.
The style, referred to as “old-school
tattooing,” used a cluster of needles to
make thick lines and vibrant colors.
The 1960s to the present has been
categorized as the “Tattoo Renaissance”
because there has been a move to legit
imizing tattooing as a fine art form, she
Within this renaissance there were
two different boom periods. One hap
pened during the ’60s and ’70s, which
was characterized by a watershed tech
nique brought over from Eastern coun
tries such as India and Japan.
The first women tattoo artists, who
started to increase during this time, had
trouble dealing with employers’
neglecting the women’s equipment, she
said. Women were also having difficul
ty getting promoted.
“A lot of early women didn’t know if
they were used as gimmicks or as
artists,” Mifflin said.
Therefore, women tattoo artists
started moving toward more feminine
designs with lots of floral patterns to
characterize their art, she said.
The fight for more control in a pre
dominantly male profession gradually
led into the third tattoo period.
In the 1980s, anorexia, AIDS, can
cer and overall body image took over
popular culture, Mifflin said.
It was important for women to feel
like they had some control over their
bodies, so they turned to body art as a
means of control, she said.
“Tattooers and piercers seemed to
be soothsayers for people concerned
about their body,” Mifflin said.
Some artists told Mifflin that tattoo
ing can enlighten the spirit and change a
person, she said.
Mifflin reminded the attendees,
including high school and university
students, that tattoos are not easily
removed and last a long time.
Maggie Pleskac, a former UNL
women’s studies major who doesn’t
have a tattoo, said the presentation was
Pleskac said she came to learn how
women had become involved with tat
Mifflin describes herself not as an
adypcate but a critic; she doesn’t have a
“If I was to get something, it would
have to be abstract, safe and timeless,”
■ English Conversations
Partners works to connect
By Eric Rineer
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
students can make some global con
nections tonight at the 10th annual
English Conversation Partners pro
Sponsored by International
Affairs, the program will match 100
American students with 100 interna
tional students. The students remain
partners until the end of the semester.
Festivities begin at 7 p.m. inside
the Nebraska Union ballroom.
The partnership will allow inter
national students a chance to
strengthen their English, said Shama
Ali, program coordinator.
It will also provide an opportunity
for Nebraskans to learn more about
other cultures, she said.
“This is the age of globalization,
and it’s very important to be aware of
how other people view things and do
things,” Ali said.
Piotrek Juszkiewicz, program
coordinator, said he felt the program
provided a two-way opportunity.
“This way, both Americans and
foreigners become exposed to each
other, and they begin to learn first
hand,” Juszkiewicz said.
Tina Cassler, a graduate student
who is attending the event, said she
hoped to be paired with two interna
Last year, Cassler and her partner
would drive to places such as Kansas
City or Minneapolis, she said.
“The number one thing is you
make new friends ... these are nor
mally people you wouldn’t meet in
Lincoln, Nebraska,” she said.
Amy Beckwith, a senior comput
er science major and program com
mittee member, said she was paired
with a student from Tajikistan last
The student, from the former
Soviet Union, Beckwith said, gained
some valuable experience from being
involved with the program.
“It was great to see him be able to
ask directions somewhere or feel
comfortable answering the phone,”
Mohammed Aldaylami, a finance
major from Bahrain, a country in the
Persian Gulf, said he was looking for
ward to the program.
Practicing his English, he said,
would increase his career options.
“With my field, I need to meet
new and different people so I can start
to communicate,” Aldaylami said.
“It’s experience for me and expe
rience for my field,” he said. “Maybe
I’ll learn something new.”
Students interested in being
matched with an international student
can call Juszkiewicz at (402) 472
5864, or (402) 476-0621.
GOP: Spending limits exceeded
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate
Majority Leader Trent Lott on
Thursday acknowledged what has
been apparent for months but not stat
ed publicly by Republican leaders:
Congress will surpass legally
required spending limits this fall.
“We’ve had emergencies we’ve
had to deal with. In fact, the caps are
exceeded,” Lott, R-Miss., told
“ “The most important thing is be
honest, get our work done, don’t raid
Social Security and don’t raise taxes,”
For months, many Republican
leaders said the spending limits
would not be broken and made that
pledge a central theme of their party’s
budget and political strategy.
Lott’s comments underline how
the GOP leadership has veered from
its initial position as the party strug
gles to find enough money for fiscal
2000 spending measures.
Instead of promising to live with
in the spending limits, Republican
leaders are now emphasizing the pro
tection of Social Security surpluses
and combatting President Clinton’s
demands for higher spending.
So far, the prospect of breaking
the limits has caused few problems
among Republicans, many of whom -
along with Democrats - have long
seen it as an inevitable response to
Moreover, lawmakers also say
that few voters have heard of the
spending limits or care about them.
Lawmakers of both parties say
their goal now is to avoid spending
any of next year’s projected $147 bil
lion Social Security surplus.
But some Republicans, including
House Budget Committee Chairman
John Kasich, R-Ohio, have expressed
concerns that some of that money
will be spent as well.
They say that would deal a major
blow to the party’s core conserva
Clinton’s 2000 budget proposed
breaking the limits by $30 billion,
according to congressional analysts,
and Republicans criticized him for it.
But he argued he had not broken them
because he proposed cigarette tax
increases and other savings to pay for
Republicans plan to use $14 bil
lion in expected non-Social Security
surpluses to help pay for spending
bills, a small tax cut for some busi
nesses and to erase cuts in Medicare
reimbursements to nursing homes
enacted two years ago.
Spending any of the $14 billion
would exceed the limits, which were
imposed by the 1997 budget-balanc
ing accord between lawmakers and
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